By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Martie Christian
Name: Stephanie Stephenson
Show: My Life of Crime
How did you first get involved in theatre?
In my family, my brother Ron and I were always performing and putting on shows, holding our family members hostage. I loved theatre growing up, but first got involved in college. My roommate was a theatre major, and she inspired me to take some acting classes. Eventually I switched my major. If my roommate had been an accountant, things could have been very different for me.
Who are your biggest influences?
I've been influenced most by people that I've worked with, either directors or teachers. Steve Pearson, who headed my acting program at University of Washington, and Mary Joan Negro, who has directed me in many shows, including this one. They have set a very high standard to aspire to. I am also a fan of many talented actors in film and theatre, like Meryl Streep and Morgan Freeman. Lately, though, all I want to watch is Stephen Colbert and John Stewart.
Tell me a little bit about your show.
My Life of Crime is about a woman trying to break from her past, come clean and start a new life - or rather, an authentic life. Her crimes begin at 8 years old when she steals a pack of Trident gum from the Winn Dixie Supermarket. The crimes that follow aren't so obvious, but hold her hostage nonetheless. Sometimes being good isn't necessarily a good thing. And swallowing your gum, while not a great habit, is a lot better than swallowing your truth.
What inspired you to write it?
I am very interested in taking events from life and creating a story that will take the audience on a ride -- to make them laugh, and to reflect back to them their own stories. The play is fictionalized, but based on events from my life growing up. And the things that my mother says sometimes… they really NEED to be written down for posterity or no one would believe it.
Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?
Mary Joan Negro (director), whom I mentioned earlier, has helped me adapt this play in previous versions, and has directed it as well. We've been working together since 2003. I'm very fortunate to know her and to be able to work with her. She's an incredible actress, director and teacher. In this version, I also worked closely on the script with Deb Theaker (dramaturge), a comedienne, actress, writer and director with roots in Second City. We've only just started working together, but I would love to work with her again -- anytime, anywhere. I am also forever indebted to Bixby Elliot, playwright and director here in NYC, who has helped me with every phase of prepping for FRIGID, from notes on early drafts of the script to doing press releases, to finding the best cupcakes in the city (Billy's, he says). He should get some kind of medal.
What's next for you after FRIGID?
I will head home to LA to perform the show for friends and family who couldn't make it out here to see this one. After that, I will produce it on the West Coast at the Elephant Theatre. I will take what I learn from the audiences at Frigid and bring it back to LA even better than it left!
And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience, what would it be?
Dear, sweet, audience… we would LOVE to see you at My Life of Crime! We are going to have a blast taking this ride, making fun of the ways we can trip ourselves up in this life. Come join us - and maybe even renounce your own life of crime!
My Life of Crime
By Stephanie Stephenson
The Red Room
85 East 4th Street
Thu 2/25 - 8:00 PM
Fri 2/26 - 11:00 PM
Sat 2/27 - 9:30 PM
Sun 2/28 - 12:30 PM
Wed 3/03 - 8:00 PM
Sat 3/06 - 11:00 PM